Pandora’s Box

a letter to someone in 2214

Dear customer,

If you choose to purchase my computer, that was made in 2013, you will find that it can do all sorts of things that, during my lifetime, were considered quite impressive. Of course, by the time you get it, all those things will already be either forgotten or boring. It has things with which we were able to store photographs, to play music, to talk to each other, and to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances.  We could find out about all the current events, history, gossip and recipes. It was both a blessing and a curse for the people of the early twenty first century to have this device. It distorted communication and relationships, as well as man’s understanding of his surroundings and of reality and life in general, much more than it improved or facilitated them. During the nineteenth century, when photography was first developed, people took pictures only of the rich and famous, of extremely significant milestones,and of the recently deceased. In the twentieth century, as photography became more affordable, people took pictures of special occasions, parties, vacations and other interesting circumstances. In the twenty first century, thanks to the computer, people took pictures of every box of cereal or crayons, and anyone who blew his nose or gargled. Thanks to this oddly interesting object no one seemed capable anymore of doing anything without its being put online.  The online world and lifestyle were an environment during which all kinds of deception were inevitably possible exactly because of the very nature of the personal computer. Websites such as Facebook and Twitter helped to revolutionize, in unfortunate ways, mankind’s approach to communication and relationships. Up to a point it was quite a nice way to keep in touch with family and friends, but it was also a Pandora’s box with all kinds of unforeseen, uncontrollable problems.

 Thank you,

An anonymous voice from the past


pandora’s box

If I were ever to receive the ability to foretell the future, on the condition that each time I use it I shall lose an entire day of my life, I might just as well take advantage of  it. Of course considering how intense the consequences of my actions would be I should only be willing to employ it under absolutely the direst of all possible circumstances. Since no one can possibly foretell the day of his death anyway, I should take quite a casual attitude toward that provision of the deal. Exactly how could such a thing possibly be put into practice? It would be understandable if I could say with certitude that I’m going to die on some certain specific day. Then I could simply subtract a day from that and be ready for it.  Who could possibly be in charge of calculating such an obscure thing?  First and foremost I should have to predict the day of my death.  Would that be possible? If that’s not one of the things I could foresee then the rest is just irrelevant. Of course there’s also the question of the moral ramifications of such a thing.  Wouldn’t that be cheating? The future is hidden from mankind for a very good reason. Why should I try to tamper with it? All sorts of questions of the true nature of freedom would come into play. Unlike the liberal totalitarians I should very much let reality take its course. Every time someone opens Pandora’s box it leads to nothing but extremely big trouble with irrevocable consequences.